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Fossilized Whale Discovered April 13, 2000
by Bernadette Arnaud

[image] This fossilized whale, probably a baleen, was 18 feet long. (Miguel Guttierez) [LARGER IMAGE]

Fossils of a whale that beached on an African shore more than a million years ago and was subsequently butchered by hominids have been recovered near the town of Benguela, 250 miles south of Luanda, Angola. This is the first time a dismembered whale has turned up at a Palaeolithic site, elephants and hippopotamuses being far more typical hominid prey. Manuel Guttierez of the Université de Paris-10 and Angolan researchers from the Archaeological Museum of Benguela found the whale's skull, the front half of its veterbral column, some ribs and isolated vertebrae together with some 60 Olduvaian choppers and flakes. The whale measured 18 feet long and was probably a baleen, according to Claude Guérin of Lyon's Université Claude Bernard. The site is still littered with the shells, sharks' teeth, and sea urchins of the ancient shore, now two miles distant and 300 feet above the sea. Excavations are ongoing at the site.

© 2000 by the Archaeological Institute of America